Third party candidates Jill Stein and Gary Johnson now looking increasingly less likely to win the 2016 presidential race. However, what they are doing is causing something of an upset in the key battleground states that will decide this election. Recent polling shows Green party candidate Jill Stein and Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson splitting Clinton and Trump’s vote in many key battleground states, meaning the third party candidates could end up deciding this election after all.
According to Reason, when Stein and Johnson are included in state polling, they shave three percentage points off Hillary Clinton’s polling and two from Donald Trump. This has been especially prominent in Virgina, where Johnson has risen from 10 percent to 12 percent over the course of the past few weeks. Whilst those numbers almost certainly won’t win Johson the presidency, they’ll undeniably make it more difficult for Clinton and Trump to pick up the support they need in the state.
Colorado is another key state where Stein and Johnson are causing something of an upset. Johnson has now managed to pick up 15 percent of the support in the state, however, he appears to be cutting more of that support from Hillary Clinton than he does Donald Trump, with five points off Clinton and three from Trump according to a previous poll.
That being said, in both Virginia and Colorado, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton is now streets ahead of her Republican rival. Since her post-DNC bump, Clinton’s numbers have continued to rise in key battleground states, leading trump by 12 percentage points in both Virginia and Colorado. With that in mind, it’s Donald Trump that stands the most to lose in the rise of third party candidates, Jill Stein and Gary Johnson, especially with many Republicans turning to Johnson as an alternative to Trump.
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North Carolina and Florida, have both similarly seen rises for Stein and Johnson in recent polling, which is significant because both states are well known as battlegrounds. That’s largely because voters with no party alliance aren’t particularly attracted to either the Democratic or Republican candidates, taking their support elsewhere.
However, the big challenge ahead for both Stein and Johnson now is climbing enough percentage points in the polls in order to make it into the upcoming presidential debates. According to the Huffington Post, the Commission on Presidential Debates has revealed that candidates will need to be polling at 15 percent in order to qualify for presidential debates, with data taken from a number of polls including; ABC-Washington Post; CBS-New York Times; CNN-Opinion Research Corporation; Fox News; and NBC-Wall Street Journal.
In a current combination of the polls, Clinton currently has 44 percent support and Trump has 36 percent, easily securing both candidates a spot in the debates. However, Johnson is currently polling at 10 percent with Stein at only 5 percent, leaving both third party candidates well below the required threshold to take part in the debates. That being said, as aforementioned, Johnson currently holds 15 percent in Colorado. If he’s able to mirror that success nationwide, he does stand a chance of taking part in the debates.
As with any other election, both third party candidates carry nowhere near the support they need in order to reach the White House. However, it’s the effect they’ll have on the outcome of the election that gives them real significance in 2016, which is only evidenced by their ability to split the vote in key battleground states.
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